I’ll be honest: I could have (and should have) titled this post “Two Christmas Romances featuring Overly Considerate and Infuriating Men” because the main male characters in each spend a lot of the book fighting against their feelings because they want to protect the main female characters from getting their hearts broken – by them.
But that title is hell on SEO so I had to keep it short and simple. I enjoyed both of the books, and since I spent most of each wanting to throttle both characters for their thoughtful (and, yes, let’s call a spade a spade) somewhat self-absorbed justification (because really, they could have gotten their hearts broken just as easily…ah, there we go) I think the authors did a fantastic job creating believable characters.
First up is Susan Mallery’s Marry Me at Christmas.
Fans of Susan Mallery will not be disappointed by this installment in the “Fool’s Gold” series. I’ll be honest, I’m a fan of series like these, where you get a more intimate look at other members of the community, and Mallery’s style means each book could be read as a stand-alone (but why would you want to?)
Marry Me at Christmas is a sweet, sedate romance. It’s heartwarming, funny, and sweetly emotional. Set in the seemingly idyllic town of Fool’s Gold, California, which has its own share of memorable inhabitants, you’ll soon be wanting to pack a bag and head there yourself.
Madeline Krug is part-owner of a wedding store in Fool’s Gold. It’s the kind of place that the young girls of the town grow up dreaming of one day visiting, and where former residents come back to buy their dress when they get engaged. Madeline has found her passion in finding the right dress for each bride – their happiness is her true goal, and she is kind and sweet.
Jonny Blaze (yes, that’s his name) is an action movie star who has moved to Fool’s Gold to find privacy and escape the craziness that comes with fame. His younger sister is getting married and planning a small wedding in Fool’s Gold. He’s very protective of his sister but has a hard time saying “I love you”, choosing to show, instead – and usually in an over-the top manner.
Mayor Marsha comes to Madeline for “help” (really, no one says “no” to Mayor Marsha). Jonny needs help planning the wedding, and the town’s only event planner is overbooked – and they’ve decided that Madeline is the best person for the job. The only problem? Madeline has a huge fan-girl crush on Jonny.
Soon enough she get’s past her fan-girl status as she finds him to be a down-to-earth guy. Jonny relaxes into life in Fool’s Gold as he discovers that most of the town treats him like any other resident, and when he is recognized, someone usually jumps in to defuse the situation. As Jonny starts to have feelings for Madeline – that’s where the conflict comes in, as a relationship with a movie star comes with heavy baggage, as well as past history – how he generally loses everyone he loves.
Mallory’s characters are witty, honest, and real. This is one of Susan Mallery’s tamer romances – one you can lend to your uptight mother-in-law and not want to crawl under the kitchen table at her next visit.
Fan’s of Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber will love this entry into the Fool’s Gold series. Marry Me at Christmas is available on Amazon.com and at booksellers; Susan Mallery can be found online at http://susanmallery.com, on Twitter, Facebook
Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin is my second book in the overly-considerate man series.
Set in White Cliff Bay, in Devon, England, Penny Meadows lives in Lilac Cottage where she works as a master ice carver. Her little cottage has an annex that she has finally rented out and for which she has big dreams of forming a lovely friendship with there soon to be new tenants, Henry and Daisy.
She is 29 years old, single, and a bit lonely. A sad episode in her past and a vindictively mean ex-boyfriend who spread rumors of how she was a bit crazy has left her a bit of an outcast in town, so she has high hopes for the couple coming to live at her house high on the hill.
Henry’s arrival at the cottage is abrupt – he’s had a dreadful move, and within minutes, all of Penny’s hopes are dashed. Henry apologizes, and Penny is a bit mortified to feel sparks for a married mad. Daisy soon follows – and Penny discovers that Daisy is Henry’s 16-year-old daughter, not his wife, and because of their history, he is very overprotective of her.
Daisy and Penny become friends – and Henry and Penny…well, that’s a different story. Because Henry is a respectable guy, he – and Daisy – decide that he simply cannot have a relationship with Penny, because she is the type of girl who deserves a forever guy. And while his recent history is one of serial romances, Henry knows he can’t hurt her like that. Daisy simply asks him not to date her because she likes Penny, loves the little cottage and wouldn’t want to leave if the relationship didn’t work out, and so on.
Penny and Henry agree to be friends. But as Christmas approaches, and it’s magic, will he be able to stay just friends?
I enjoyed this book in the end, but I will admit, the start of the novel was infuriating as Henry see-sawed all over the place. He’s attracted – but he must stay away. He stays away, and then he kisses her. Seriously, I was waiting for Penny to lob him over the head with an ice carving tool, he was so hot and cold.
The town itself is its own character, really. Those familiar with living in a very small town knows how quickly word gets around and how nothing is really private, and in this case, it is hilarious and over-the-top infuriating for both Henry and Penny, and adds to the tension – and comic relief – in the story.
Christmas at Lilac Cottage is a Christmas tale with a lot of heart and even more humor – a great escape on a cold, snowy afternoon, meant for curling up with a cup of cocoa and a sweet treat, and I look forward to reading more about the inhabitants of White Cliff Bay in upcoming novels.
We’re midway through the Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon and I’m behind on my reviews because I’m so caught up in the books that are flying into my Kindle. More reviews will follow when the read-a-thon ends because I have so many lovely books to share.
Disclosure: I was provided a copy of Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Bookouture through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Marry Me At Christmas was purchased by myself, for myself.